The Manifestation of the Truth

When all things exist, there are Enlightenment and delusion, practice, life and death. Buddhas and ordinary people. When all things are without self, there is no delusion, no Enlightenment, no Buddhas, no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is beyond being and non-being; so there are life and death, delusion and Enlightenment, ordinary people and Buddhas. Thus, when flowers fall we are sad, and when weeds grow we are annoyed. To start from the self and try to understand all things is delusion. To let the self be awakened by all things is Enlightenment. To be Enlightened about delusion is to be a Buddha. To be deluded in the midst of Enlightenment is to be an ordinary person. Then there are those who are Enlightened beyond Enlightenment, and those who are deluded by delusion. When Buddhas are truly Buddhas, they don't need to be aware of themselves as Buddhas. But they are Enlightened ones. They advance in Enlightenment. When we see forms or hear sounds with our whole body and mind, we understand them intimately. But it isn't like images in a mirror or the moon reflected in water. When we look at one side, the other is dark. To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be Enlightened by all things. To be Enlightened by all things is to drop off our own body and mind, and to drop off the bodies and minds of others. No trace of Enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. When we first seek the truth, we think we are far from it. When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original self. If we watch the shore from a boat, it seems that the shore is moving. But when we watch the boat directly, we know it is the boat that is moving. If we look at the world with a deluded body and mind, we will think that our self is permanent. But if we practice correctly and return to our true self, we will realize that nothing is permanent. Wood burns and there are ashes; the process is never reversed. But we shouldn't think that what is now ashes was once wood. We should understand that wood is at the stage of wood, and that is where we find its before and after. There is a past and a future, but its present is independent of them. Ashes are at the stage of ashes, and this is where we find their before and after. Just as wood doesn't become wood again after it has turned into ashes, a person doesn't return to life after death. Thus it is taught in Buddhism that life doesn't become death. For this reason, life is called the Unborn. It is also taught that death doesn't become life. So death is called the Undying. Life is complete in itself; death is complete in itself. They are like the seasons. We don't call spring the future summer, or winter the past of spring. Gaining Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon doesn't get wet; the water isn't broken. Although its light is broad and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the whole sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass. Enlightenment doesn't destroy the person, just as the moon doesn't break the water. The person doesn't hinder Enlightenment, just as a dewdrop doesn't hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the dewdrop is the height of the moon. The time of the reflection, long or short, proves the vastness of the dewdrop, and the vastness of the moon in they sky. When the truth doesn't fill our body and mind, we think we have had enough. When the truth fills our body and mind, we realize that something is missing. For example, when we look at the ocean from a boat, with no land in sight, it seems circular and nothing else. But the ocean is neither round nor square, and its features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is like a jewel. Only to our eyes, only for a moment, does it seem circular. All things are like this. Although there are numberless aspects to all things, we see only as far as our vision can reach. And in our vision of all things, we must appreciate that although they may look round or square, the other aspects of oceans or mountains are infinite in variety, and that universities lie all around us. It is like this every- where, right here, in the tiniest drop of water. When a fish swims, it swims on and on, and there is no end to the water. When a bird flies, it flies on and on, and there is no end to the sky. There was never a fish that swam out of water, or a bird that flew out of the sky. When they need a little water or sky, they use just a little; when they need a lot, they use a lot. Thus, they use all of it at every moment, and in every place they have perfect freedom. But if there were a bird that first wanted to examine the size of the sky, or a fish that first wanted to examine the extent of the water, and then try to fly or swim, it would never find its way. When we find where are at this moment, then our everyday life is itself the manifestation of the truth. For the place, the way, is neither large nor small, neither self nor other. It has never existed before, and it is not coming into existence now. It is simply as it is. Thus in our practice of Buddhism, when we master one truth, we master all truths; and when we complete one activity, we complete all activities. The place is here; the way leads everywhere. So understanding is not easy, because it is simultaneous with the complete attainment of the Buddha's teaching. Even though we have already attained supreme Enlightenment, we may not realize it. Some may, and some may not. One day, while a Zen master was fanning himself, a monk came up to him and said, "Master, the nature of the wind is permanent, and there is no place it doesn't reach. Why then do you need to fan yourself?" "You understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," the Master said, "but you don't understand that it reaches everywhere." "What does it mean that it reaches everywhere?" the monk said. The Master just fanned himself. The monk bowed with deep respect. This is how Buddhism is experienced and correctly transmitted. Those who say that we shouldn't use a fan, because the wind is everywhere, under- stand neither permanence nor the nature of the wind. Because the nature of the wind is permanent, the wind of Buddhism brings forth the gold of the earth and turns its long rivers into wine. (Dogen 1200-1253)